To the Middle East in search of wealth
Female Middle East workers returning
By Shezna Shums
This year there has been a sharp increase in
the number of migrant workers compared to
the number of migrant workers last year. The
majority of Sri Lankans seeking greener
pastures abroad tend to leave for the Middle
East where securing a job is considered
Deputy General Manager, Sri Lanka
Foreign Employment Bureau, L.K. Ruhunuge
told The Sunday Leader that there was a 23
percent increase in the number of persons
leaving the country for greener pastures
this year when compared to the previous
These figures are for the first six months
of this year as against the same period
Ruhunuge said that from January to June this
year 127, 224 migrant workers registered
with the bureau and had gone aboard for
Last year during the same period there was a
total of 103, 880 workers who left the
country for employment abroad.
"This shows that there is a sharp increase
of 23 percent over last year's figure and
most of the workers leaving the country are
going to the Middle East for employment,"
However it is important to note that a
number of workers leaving Sri Lanka for
employment do not necessarily register with
Assistance of the bureau
The purpose of registering with the bureau
is to obtain the assistance of the bureau in
case a problem arises with the foreign
employer or with regard to the employee's
If the employee is not registered with the
bureau there is very little that the
officials can do to resolve these issues, it
was pointed out.
The statistics maintained by the bureau show
that this year there have been 61, 808 males
and 65, 416 females who have gone abroad for
It is mainly the unskilled and semi skilled
workers who leave for greener pastures and
invariably all of them go to work in
countries in the
The major destinations for migrant workers
are Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar,
Lebanon, Jordon and Bahrain.
too attracts our migrant workers but the
numbers are relatively minuscule.
On top of the list
tops the list with providing employment to
28 percent of our migrant workers. The other
countries in the Middle East that provide
employment to Sri Lankans percentage wise
are - UAE - 18 percent, Qatar - 19
percent, Kuwait - 19 percent and Jordan - 10
The rest of the countries including South
Korea have lesser than 10 percent of
migrant Sri Lankan workers.
Many of these workers seek employment abroad
for better prospects, improvement in their
living conditions and better opportunities
for themselves as well as their families.
Statistics maintained by the SLFEB show
that there has been a gradual increase in
the number of females leaving for jobs
In the year 1986 the ratio between males and
females seeking foreign employment was
67:33. But today there is hardly any
difference in the number of males and
females seeking employment abroad.
Sri Lankans are also employed in countries
such as the Maldives, Cyprus, and Oman and
it is the pressure of economic problems here
that drives these workers to seek foreign
A majority of Sri Lankans work in the
as housemaids, unskilled and skilled
workers, clerical staff and middle level
staff. Some professionals too have secured
lucrative employment in these countries.
These workers, other than the professionals
earn on average salaries equivalent to SLR
10,000 to a little over SLR 15,000 per
With the current situation in Sri Lanka
where the cost of living has soared to
unprecedented heights and security has
become a problem, the number of Sri Lankans
leaving for greener pastures and better
safety has increased significantly.
The increased number of Sri Lankans seeking
foreign employment has also brought in its
wake a plethora of social problems for the
immediate families in particular and society
in general. Since all those seeking jobs as
housemaids are females, in a one parent
family headed by a female, the children and
elders who are left behind undergo terrible
Break up of the family
Similarly, returnees especially females,
find that it is difficult to integrate into
their families, because the families
themselves find it hard to accept them
because of the social changes that they have
gone through. Such a situation also leads
to problems between the spouses eventually
resulting in the break up of the family.
Another problem is when young mothers go
abroad for employment leaving their
children at home in the care of a relative.
These children often suffer neglect and in
some cases are even subjected to abuse
creating serious problems for the children,
their mother and the family as a whole. The
victims of abuse often remain scarred for
A husband left at home to care for the
children for long periods, more often than
not, gets addicted to alcoholism and
abandons the children. He is also likely to
take another wife or sexually abuse the
children creating bigger problems to the
family and society.
Nevertheless, in spite of all these issues
what cannot be denied is that our migrant
workers are a resource that brings in the
much needed foreign exchange into the
country without which the country would
suffer immense economic hardship.
Hot, hot kasaya to your
Herbal produce left to dry out before
use (inset) Ayurveda products on
display at the osusala and Dr.
By Ranee Mohamed
It is just like the pizza or the Chinese
food that you may order on a Friday night,
for it comes 'hot and fresh.' You can also
study their 'menu' and 'order' or you can
bring your own prescription.
This shop of traditional medicine called the
Sethsuva Ayurveda Osusala is situated on the
Kiribathgoda Road near the Kiribathgoda
The first steps, while walking into the
osusala, give one the feeling that one is
going into a supermarket. But the shelves
are not filled with biscuits, jam, sauces
and cheese - instead there are oils,
concoctions, tonics and fresh herbs.
"More and more Sri Lankans have today turned
to ayurveda. This is because they have
realised that ayurveda is a safe and sure
cure. This is why I have brought all the
ayurveda products including fresh herbal
produce under one roof,' said the proprietor
of the shop Dr. Sujeewa Vithanage.
With a BA, MS from the University of
Colombo, Dr. Vithanage who has been a
practicing ayurveda physician for over a
decade said that cures from ayurveda have no
after-effects or side effects.
"This osusala is the first of its kind in
the country. This is because we do not give
pride of place to one product or one
producer of herbal products. Thus we have
herbal products from the Sri Lanka
Ayurvedic Drugs Corporation, the Kandy Osu
Sala, Beam Chemicals, Link Natural Herbal
Products, products from Siddha Ayurveda in
Gampaha and Siddhalepa herbals. Ayurveda
products from India and China are also
available here together with government
approved beauty products, creams,
anti-ageing products and ayurveda products
aimed at improving sexual vigour and
potency," explained Dr. Sujeewa Vithanage.
"Of all our products and services, it is the
preparation of kasayas for individual needs
that takes pride of place and we now deliver
these hot kasayas to one's doorstep, be it
in Colombo 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8 and in the
neighbourhood of Kiribathgoda within a
radius of 10 kilometres - we are operating
this service for the 'first time' in Sri
Lanka," said Dr. Sujeewa Vithanage.
"Kasayas (herbal concoctions) vary from
ailment to ailment. The original herbal
concoction is reduced to a certain amount
depending on the patient and his affliction.
Thus we have to carefully look into each
individual preparation. Kasayas cannot be
made in bulk," explained Dr. Sujeewa
Thus, the doctor said that there are kasayas
(herbal concoctions) for the treatment of
heart diseases, diabetes, pressure,
cholesterol, paralysis, bronchial asthma,
skin diseases, ailments of the gastro
intestinal tract, piles, haemorrhoids,
"However difficult or however bitter one's
kasaya may be, we will not make any changes
for we believe in the power of these strong
herbal concoctions and thus ensure that the
patient gets the prescribed preparation, hot
and made to measure," said the doctor.
"One can pick up one's beauty needs or oils
from here. But one can also consult our
ayurveda physician for a more personalised
blend of kasaya herbals. Once these are
prescribed, one can place the order for
delivery. Also, patients can send in their
beheth vattoru or prescription and we will
pick out the herbs, measure the exact
portion and prepare it just the way one's
personal ayurveda physician has decreed and
then ensure that is delivered to their
doorstep," said Dr. Sujeewa Vithanage.
As another first time in Sri Lanka, Dr.
Sujeewa Vithanage has also set up a mobile
ayurveda service where an ayurveda physician
will visit one in his/her home, examine the
patient and prescribe treatment.
"As we also have another hospital called the
Sethsuva Ayurveda Hospital, we offer a range
of other treatments as massages for men and
women, steam baths and beheth oru ( herbal
boat) made from the rukaththana tree. This
beheth oruwa is used in the treatment of
snake bites and diseases of the nerves. We
also have a thel oru (herbal oil boat) which
is used in the treatment of paralysis,
wastage of muscle and for the flushing out
of toxins from the system," elaborated
ayurveda physician, Dr. Vithanage.
The affiliated Sethsuva Ayurveda Hospital
also offers panchakarma treatment, head
treatment and facials.
The Sethsuva Ayurveda Osusala however is a
slender branching out of this hospital. Yet
the osusala run on the lines of a
supermarket offers a range of oils too which
can be picked by any walk-in customer and
used for one's personal needs.
The oils available at the osusala are
mahanarayana (for oral use and external
application), vatha viduranga, maha
siddhartha (for internal and external use,
neelayadi (for the head), ashwaganda (for
diseases of the nerve), nirgundhi (for
application on the head for falling hair,
headache, sinus and other complications),
sharshapadi (for pain in the joints and
muscles), mahamashadi (for diseases of the
nerves, muscle wasting and paralysis).
"There are over 400 herbs in Sri Lanka and
every herb available in Sri Lanka is
available at our osusala. Ayurveda aims at
alleviating the suffering of the ailing and
preserving the health of the healthy and to
do this one needs an ayurveda physician, a
nurse, herbal drugs and the patient. Today,
pure herbal medicine is difficult to find.
We must always remember that there can be no
good cure without good herbs," said Dr.
Sujeewa Vithanage, his analysis spot on.
Dr. Sujeewa Vithanage went on to ask why we
do not make use of the herbal aids to
beauty. "The sandalwood, kasthuri, turmeric,
venivel geta and kukunkumappu which have
helped in beauty treatment in ancient times
still hold good. This is why we ought to
make use of these natural products," advised
Health and beauty
The osusala is lined with herbal products in
packets and fresh herbal produce.
sandalwood, kasthuri, kaha and herbal face
packs and face creams form an integral part
of the health and beauty aids of this
one-stop herbal shop in Kiribathgoda.
Help this child to hear
and enjoy the sounds around him
Baby Kaleesha Arunalu Suraweera
By Nirmala Kannangara
Children are the most precious gifts parents
could ever hope to get. Hence children are
loved and cherished by parents. It is the
parents who suffer most when children fall
sick. No matter what the gravity of the
illness is parents panic when a child is
even slightly sick, as it is they who feel
the pulse of the children.
One-and-a-half year old baby Kaleesha
Arunalu Suraweera of Kadawatha, who was born
deaf and dumb urgently needs a Cochlear
Implant to correct his hearing. Consultant
ENT Surgeon, Apollo Hospital Dr. Devanand
Jha who examined the child has advised his
parents that the child needs to undergo the
surgery immediately if he is to get his
According to Dr. Jha, recent investigations
done on baby Kaleesha have clearly shown
that he urgently needs to undergo this
'total correction surgery' to relieve him of
his status as a deaf and dumb child.
The surgery is to be performed at the Apollo
Hospital and the operation is to cost Rs.
Rs.2.8 million which amount the child's
father, S.A.D.S. Priyantha Kumara is unable
According to M.R.M Faiz of the Financial
Information Centre, Apollo Hospital, the
total estimated cost would be Rs.2.8 million
if the child is kept in the general ward. He
has also said that the charge could vary
according to the patient's condition and the
Cochlear Implant used.
Meanwhile according to Dr. Jha the child has
also to attend rehabilitation programmes and
the present fluctuation in foreign currency
could vary the estimated cost.
Meanwhile Kumara, the child's father had
applied to the President's Fund to obtain
financial assistance and the President's
Fund had promised to provide Rs. 1 million
for this purpose. This amount Kumara has now
collected from the President's Fund. In fact
some well-wishers too have come forward to
help Kumara to meet the bill.
"We cannot sleep in the night. We have had
no happiness because our only child is
ailing. He cannot hear us and he cannot hear
the sounds around him," said father
Priyantha Kumara whoworks at the Central
Mail Exchange in Colombo.
"What is the future that awaits our son who
cannot hear?" he asks.
Kumara went on to appeal to anyone who can
help his son, to extend a helping hand. "We
do not want the money; all we want is for
some philanthropist to contact the doctor or
the hospital and save our son from the sad
future that awaits him," said Priyantha
Meanwhile Consultant ENT Surgeon Dr.
Devanand Jha in a letter states that
Kaleesha Arunalu Suraweera should benefit
from a Cochlear Implant which needs to be
done as soon as possible.
For these helpless parents who spend
sleepless nights over the disability of
their son, their only wish is that Kaleesha
Arunalu Suraweera would be able to hear.
Knowing that help is at hand yet their
inability to get it, is the greatest agony
that they face.
"Our plea is to all parents. We appeal to
them to help us to give our son a life
without disability," said Priyantha Kumara.
Ground water harvesting
and the danger to the environment
People quenching their thirst with
water from a tube well
By Risidra Mendis
Those who live in cities and with running
water on tap may not probably know the
importance of having tube wells in the
vicinity of one's home. But think of those
for whom the only source of water is the
Tube wells that were once popular in Western
countries have now become a necessity not
only to people in villages but also for
those in the city who have to face constant
The purpose of a tube well is to drill below
ground level and extract the water
underground. However environmentalists say a
tube well, though a convenience to thousands
of people, can cause damage to the crust of
the earth as well as contribute to a
shortage of water in the years to come.
A tube well as the name implies is simply a
tube or pipe bored into the underground
reservoir, fitted with a strainer at the
lower end and worked at the top by a pump,
to extract the underground water. A tube
well is a type of water well in which a long
five to eight inch wide, stainless steel
tube is inserted in to the ground. This tube
is then extended till it reaches water
underground, below the lower surface of the
In Calcutta (India) the plight of poor
people spurred Don Bosco SERI (Self
Employment Research Institute), Mirpara, to
initiate a project code-named "Dead Wells
Come Alive," a scheme aimed at reviving
defunct tube wells.
This is one of the many outreach programmes
that the institute organises to help the
less fortunate in its locality. 'Dead Wells
Come Alive' is carried out by a group of
past pupils with the active assistance of a
non governmental organisation - AFPRO
(Action For Food Production).
In Quetta, Pakistan many tube wells have
been installed to overcome a serious water
crisis. Imagine a city of over a million
people without water? Such a scenario looms
over Baluchistan, where drought and
intensive exploitation of ground-water
reservoirs mean a crisis could manifest
itself within the next few years.
Due to the constant digging of tube wells
and the tapping of underground water,
environment experts in Pakistan say that the
underground water resources may run out in
the not too distant future, leaving
Pakistan's capital waterless.
Supply and demand
While the upper replenishable alluvial
aquifers are already stressed by the ongoing
drought and drilling of too many tube-wells
in the valley, the Pakistani government is
digging more deep wells to extract water
from the hard-rock aquifers to bridge the
gap between supply and demand in the city.
Explaining the issue, Nadir Gul Barech,
provincial coordinator with the
International Union for Conservation of
Nature and Natural Resources, said the
dramatic population increase,
over-exploitation of ground-water and
drought have led to a water crisis. He added
that more than 2,000 tube-wells were now
pumping out water for Quetta alone.
"A decade ago, water was available 30 metres
below the surface. Now it is difficult to
find any even at 100 metres," he said. A
report in the early 1990s predicted that
Quetta will be a dead city within two
decades, because no water will be
available," Barech said.
"BCS has strongly recommended that the
provincial capital should be shifted to
another location, relieving Quetta of the
current population pressure," he said, and
added that the issue in Quetta was not only
that of water scarcity but also a lack of
proper water management.
The problem has been compounded by the
digging of about 24,000 tube-wells, and an
increase in the city's population.
Tube wells have also served to divert water
away from the hundreds of karezes, or
centuries-old underground channels, formerly
used to irrigate fruit-trees. Ironically,
the government is trying to resolve the
crisis by boring more tube wells to bring
out the perennial fossil water from under
According to experts an assessment done has
indicated that fossil water would last till
2025. Explaining the reason for the decision
to extract fossil water, Asif Nazir Rana,
assistant director at the Geological Survey
of Pakistan (GSP), said, "Natural resources
are not unlimited, it's up to the people to
plan and use them wisely."
Asked if, once drained, the hard-rock water
could ever be replenished, Syed Ghazanffar
Abbas, a geologist with GSP said he believed
the reserve could recover, but at a slow
In Sri Lanka despite digging tube wells
being a popular means of accessing water no
proper survey has been done with regard to
the harm caused to the environment. The
danger of underground water running out and
the earth's crust getting damaged are yet to
The dance before the show
These last few weeks I have been on the trot
from morning. The girls took part in two
stage shows, so it was a case of keeping
track of who had to go where at what time,
juggle transport and manpower with military
precision. I was in my element!
This wasn't very easy, as sometimes I didn't
meet them until late at night. I would be
tired at the end of the day/early morning
pretending to watch the telly or reading a
book. I would suddenly wake up and the movie
was over or the book would be perched on my
Then I fire a quick text message to them
saying, "Come back FAST or else.!" This
worked most of the time. Certain other times
I would be asked to come and pick up a gang
of them and then go on my dropping round. I
quite enjoy this, as I get to listen to
various bits of juicy gossip!
So then I doze off, and generally get up
when the mentally disturbed cock bird
next-door crows at the crack of dawn, or
birds start warbling. I roll around and try
to fall asleep again, but no way does this
Chase away the birds
I have a friend who actually gets her maid
to chase away the birds and squirrels until
it is time for her to officially rise for
the day! Then I wait for one of the girls to
get up and inform me what time she has to be
at which destination.
Depending on the wakeup time,
breakfast/brunch has to be organised.
Sometimes other people's children emerge
sleepily from their rooms. Invariably just
after one has left, the other one wakes up
and says, "Mum, can I be dropped off at. ."
When I ask her why she didn't tell me the
previous day, she says her friends decided
on this much after we went to bed! More
juggling with logistics.
Then I have to produce snacks for
rehearsals. For the friends too, of course,
and yes, the teacher, naturally. I thank my
lucky stars for the food processor,
microwave and other kitchen appliances.
Special requests have also to be catered to.
I also have to keep running behind them
breathlessly asking what time they finish,
if they are going elsewhere, with whom, what
Dancing Doll presented me with a long list
of items she needed for her dance show. She
never seemed to be free to go look for them.
Finally, managed to locate almost the whole
lot on the list. A pirate shirt was ordered
from my good friend the costumier.
A hot pink fabric was dispatched through the
driver to fashion a tie. Other things
apparently she already had. The day before
the dress rehearsal, I tell her to kindly
check her costumes so we could press and
hang them up. Horrors! Her teeny black
shorts are missing!
She definitely had them a few days ago. The
whole house is turned topsy-turvy but no
signs of the missing shorts. Then she
wriggles into a skin-tight pair and says
she'll manage with that! I told her, lack of
blood circulation would prevent any dancing.
So I grumble all along the way to the
rehearsal and stop at a popular clothes
outlet. She runs in and comes out
triumphantly waving a shopping bag. Thank
Stretchy cycle shorts
The next morning, she over-casually remarks
she needs a pair of stretchy cycle shorts,
but on seeing my expression, adding hastily,
"Oh, I've asked a friend to lend me one."
Muttering under my breath, I march up to a
cupboard and go through a bag of costumes
and pull out several pairs.
"Ah, perfect! Only they are too long!" Then
she proceeds to cut it shorter and insists
they don't need to be hemmed. I snatch it
from her and sew it. When we go to pick her
up, she informs us that her white tracks
were lost. She has another. She also tells
us that her costumes need to be jazzed up,
so could we go next morning to buy sequins,
glitter paint and stuff?
I told her by the time she wakes up there
won't be time to jazz anything up. So we
rush to this shop just as they are about to
close and grab stuff. Then she proceeds to
work ferociously pasting, gluing and tying.
I feverishly hand sew ribbons along the side
of a trouser. We are all exhausted but happy
with the handiwork. On with the show!
- Honky Tonk Woman
Males and females
A woman walked into the kitchen to find her
husband stalking around with a flyswatter.
"What are you doing?" she asked.
"Hunting flies!" he responded.
"Oh! Killed any?" she asked.
"Yep, three males, two females," he replied.
Intrigued, she asked, "How can you tell?"
He responded, "Three were on a beer can, two
were on the phone!"
A man and his wife are sitting in the living
room watching a drama about a man who lost
consciousness and went into a coma. He says
to her; "Just so you know, I never want to
live in a vegetative state, dependent on
some machine. If that ever happens to me,
just pull the plug." His wife gets up and
unplugs the TV.
Two and two
A bank manager was interviewing four very
different applicants from his short list for
a clerical position. He devised a simple
test to select the most suitable person for
the job. He asked each applicant the
question, `What is two and two?'
The first interviewee was a journalist. His
answer was 'Twenty-two.'
The second applicant was an engineer. He
pulled out a slide rule and showed the
answer to be between 3.999 and 4.001.
The next person was a lawyer. He stated that
in the case of Jenkins vs Cromwell two and
two was proven to be four.
The last applicant was an accountant. When
the bank manager asked him, 'How much is two
and two?' the accountant got up from his
chair, went over and closed the door.
He came back, sat down, leaned across the
desk and said in a low voice, 'How much do
you want it to be?' He got the job.
The orthopaedic surgeon Joe works for was
moving to a new office, and his staff was
helping transport many of the items.
Joe sat the display skeleton in the front of
his car, his bony arm across the back of his
seat. Joe hadn't considered the drive across
At one traffic light, the stares of the
people in the car beside him became obvious,
and he looked across and explained, "I'm
delivering him to my doctor's office."
The other driver leaned out of his window.
"I hate to tell you," he said, "but I think
it's too late!"
Early one morning, John, who works at the
local funeral parlour, woke his wife,
complaining of severe abdominal pains.
They rushed to the emergency room at the
local hospital where they put him through a
series of tests to determine the source of
John told his wife not to call in sick for
him until they knew what was wrong.
When the results came back, the nurse
informed them that, true to their
suspicions, he was suffering from a kidney
John's wife turned to John and asked, "Would
you like me to call the funeral parlour
With an alarmed look, the nurse quickly
said, "Ma'am, he's not THAT sick!"
Mr. Jacobs," the analyst said, "I think this
will be your last visit."
"Does that mean I'm cured?" he asked.
"For all practical purposes, yes," she said.
"I think we can safely say that your
kleptomania is now under control. You
haven't stolen anything in two years, and
you seem to know where the kleptomania came
"Well, that's terrific, Doctor. Before I go,
I'd like to tell you something. Although our
relationship is strictly professional, it's
been one of the most rewarding of my life. I
wish I could do something to repay you for
"You've paid my fee," the doctor said.
"That's the only responsibility you have."
"I know," Jacobs said. "But isn't there some
personal favour I could do for you?"
"Well," the doctor said, "I'll tell you
what. If you ever suffer a relapse, my son
could use a nice, portable, colour
A man was wheeling himself frantically down
the hall of the hospital in his wheelchair,
just before his operation.
A nurse stopped him, and asked, "What's the
He said, "I heard the nurse say, It's a very
simple operation. Don't worry, I'm sure it
will be all right."
"She was just trying to comfort you, what's
so frightening about that?"
"She wasn't talking to me. She was talking
to the doctor!"